Tuesday, October 28, 2008

So They all Rolled Over and One Fell Out...

No, no one fell out of anything this week, but someone did ROLL OVER! That's right, our tiny little Eli finally figured out how to roll over! I am so proud of him! Every doctor we ever see (which is a lot for our preemie guy) gently reminds me that Eli will be developmentally behind until he is two years old because of his prematurity. (At two he'll be completely caught up.) So I try not to read any of the books that talk about milestones for his age, etc. because I just want to enjoy Eli for who he is and were he's at. But I get so excited when he reaches each milestone AHEAD of when the doctors say a premature baby should reach them! Our little Eli has been a fighter since day one, and he continues to prove his strength to us every day.

Yesterday morning I had him on the floor playing with toys on his belly, and he all of the sudden just rolled over to his back! I was really surprised because he's never even attempted this before, so I put him back on his belly to see if it was just an accident or if he'd do it again. And over he went yet again! His look of surprise was so adorable- "Hey, how did I get to be on my back?" And then when I went nuts with praise for him he looked even more surprised, "Why is mom going bonkers about this?" Of course, when I tried to capture his new feat on video, he just got mad and wanted to be held. But I'll remember this first roll-over forever in my head! Way to go, little Eli!

In other news, I am finally getting over this stomach bug that has had me down for five days now. That's right, five days. Five miserable days. Five saltines-and-chicken-broth days. Five 100-degree-fever days. Five I-think-I'll-just-lay-here-and-moan days (reference When Harry Met Sally). Fortunately Eric was home over the weekend and took care of Eli 100% so that I could just lay in bed. But yesterday he had to go back to work and it almost killed me! I never realized how bad being sick can be until I had a baby! To be dragged out of bed in the morning by a happy, talkative baby and have to be smiley and upbeat and care-taking all day when you feel like you just got ran over by a truck is no easy thing! But I did it. And today is so much better. I'm really thankful to be sitting here drinking a cup of coffee and keeping it down! :) Hooray for health.

Eli has been so incredibly talkative lately! From the moment he wakes up to the moment he closes his eyes he is babbling. I love it! It is hard to feed him, though, because he just wants to talk, not eat his bottle. :)

We're going camping this weekend! Twice a year our whole [Bergstrom side of the] family goes to Daingerfield State Park in East Texas for a long weekend. It's the most perfect place in Texas, and we've been going there since we were little girls. And now that we're all grown up and married with kids, we're still going strong. Eric and I had to miss the last trip because I was on strict bed rest with the pregnancy, so we are even more looking forward to this one. Daingerfield is the place where Eric told me that he loved me for the first time (sappy sound effects allowed here) and the place where he proposed (in the most romantic, amazing way any guy could ever come up with) and the place we went just days after finding out we were expecting Eli. And now it is the place that we'll bring Eli twice a year for years and years to come. I can't wait!

And, now that I am hearing Eli's talking through the baby monitor, I will go get him up from his nap! Have a great Tuesday!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

This Week

Not a lot has been going on this week- it has been really calm and normal, which is just how I like it! Here are a few tidbits...

-At Awana on Tuesday I was talking to the kids about whether or not they like their school teachers. One boy said, "I like my Awana teacher!" Because I am in fact their Awana teacher, I wanted to know the wonderful reasons why he likes me so much. He answered, "Because she brings us snacks every week!" Yeah, I was humbled. :)

-Eli is as cute and happy as ever! His new thing is to talk incessantly every moment that he is awake. So instead of hearing him fussing in his crib when he wakes up for his 4am feeding, we hear baby talk. It's adorable. We have a mobile above his crib that he loves. It is a blessing beacause it keeps him occupied in his crib long enough for me to fix him a bottle or finish what I was doing before going in to get him. It is a curse because if I lay him down to sleep and he so much as cracks an eye open to see it, he gets so excited that he just lays there and talks to it instead of sleeping. :)

-Eli and I went to the Arboretum again this week, this time with my friend Sarah and her two kiddos. We had a blast, despite spending a whopping $14 on a sandwich and a cup of coffee. (Note to self: PACK A PICNIC LUNCH NEXT TIME!) Eric and I are going to buy a family membership to the Arboretum as a present for Eli for Christmas. It will be something that we can all enjoy throughout the year.

-I ruined our weekend plans by catching some sort of stomach bug! I haven't been sick like this since college, and it hit me so hard. We had planned on taking Eli to the zoo, but all I could manage on Saturday was to lie in bed and moan! :) I am really thankful that Eric was around to take care of Eli! I am feeling much better today, just kind of "blah." Hopefully tomorrow I'll be 100%, because I have Heather's kids along with Eli.

And that's about it! Have a great week!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Shepherd

This weekend I went on the Women's Retreat with our church. It was so very refreshing. Do you ever think that God chooses speakers/teachers/pastors sometimes for just one person in an audience? Sure, everyone enjoys the teaching and gets encouraged by the Word of God, but maybe God chose the speaker to touch the heart of one particular person in the room, one person who really needed to hear a specific something that they wouldn't have heard otherwise? This is probably a really naive view of things, because God is so big and His Word so deep that He can use a speaker to touch the hearts of every single person in a room in a multiplicity of ways. But it makes me feel special to very occasionally feel like God chose a speaker especially for me. Anyway, the point of that ramble is that I feel like this weekend's speaker was just for me, if even for the few minutes that she shared one particular verse.

Please forgive the lengthiness, and let me share with you how my heart was touched...

The speaker (Shirley Bryan) was talking about the 'pictures' God gives us that can sustain us through difficult times, i.e., a child and her Father, the indwelling Word, putting on spiritual clothing, etc. And the picture that touched me most was the picture of the Shepherd. This is why God had me go on this retreat. He reached down and spoke directly into my heart, and I am changed.

"Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes." (Isaiah 40:11)

The past year and a half has contained both the greatest joys and the deepest sorrow of my life. In the past year and a half I got engaged and married. My first child was born. These are joys that will forever stand out as the happiest moments of my life. But the darkest days of my life are also contained in the past year and a half. They are recent, actually- just five and a half short months ago my precious Eli was born two months premature and spent six weeks in the NICU fighting for His life.

I was very sick with Eli's birth. My blood pressure had sky-rocketed to 200/150. My kidneys were shutting down. My liver was swelling and causing unbearable pain. I was on magnesium sulfate and was unable to move my legs or get out of bed for 52 hours. I was swollen so much that I didn't even look like myself. I had an emergency c-section and was incredibly sore.

But all of this discomfort pales in comparison to the fact that my little baby boy was taken out of my body and placed not onto my chest but into an incubator and rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit. I kissed his little head, but then I didn't get to see my son for 48 hours. I didn't get to hold him for 52 hours. He was on a ventilator, under UV lamps, attached to an IV, heart monitor, blood pressure monitor, respiration monitor, and feeding tube. He weighed little more than 2.5 pounds. His lungs were immature and unable to work on their own. His heart had a valve open that was supposed to be closed at birth. He cried out in pain, but no sound came out because of the tube in his lungs. He had tape covering most of his face, holding in the vent tube, and his eyes were shielded with "sunglasses" so that they would not burn under the UV lamp. His skin was transparent. You could see his ribs and his heaving chest with every breath. Sitting there in a wheelchair, looking at my son in this condition, I felt the most intense pain I have ever felt in my entire life. And when they placed him in my arms hours later, along with all his tubing and little monitors, I sobbed. Part of my tears were joyful- I was holding my son!- and part were tears of intense pain.

Three days later Eric and I drove away from the hospital without our baby. We left him in the NICU. I walked into the house and unpacked my things and went to bed, and the nursery was dark and quiet. Every day I drove to the hospital and sat for hours on end staring into Eli's incubator, stretching my arms through the little windows so that I could touch his head, singing quiet lullabyes so that he would know my voice, rejoicing in every opportunity given to me to take his temperature or change his diaper and even hold him for an hour or two every few days. Some days we received good news and some days we received bad news. Every day I walked out of the hospital with tears in my eyes because I was leaving my baby, going home to an empty nursery. Every day I ached to have him in my arms, and most days of those first few weeks the most that I was allowed was to hold his hand.

The upshot is that right now as I write this I am listening to the sound of my little Eli's breathing through the baby monitor. He is sleeping in his warm crib, listening to his sound machine, snuggled in his soft blankets and waiting to wake up with a smile so that I can feed him and rock him back to sleep. And while I rejoice daily in the miracle of my son, my little Eli, the pain of those first months is still so fresh in my heart. I am crying even as I write this.

And the verse above touched me this weekend right in that painful place. I had memorized it years ago, but I forgot all about it until the speaker read it again. In speaking of her own experience with her premature and sick son, she said that she didn't need to worry that she couldn't hold her tiny baby, because the Shepherd was holding him close. And just as He was holding her baby, He was holding the baby's mommy too, with gentleness and love. And my heart broke under the power of God's word.

I couldn't hold Eli. I couldn't help him. I couldn't take him home with me and put him to bed and give him a bath and get him dressed. I couldn't even nurse him. I couldn't even get out of bed for those first days, could do little more than lie in pain. But my Shepherd was with me, because I am of His flock. He was holding my baby in His bosom. And He was gently leading this tired, sick, grieving mommy. All the way. Through the bad news and the good news. Through every labored breath Eli took. Through every tear that ran down my face. Through every night that we spent away from each other. Through every silent cry that escaped his lips and every sob that came through mine. Through every ounce Eli gained and every test he endured. Through every moment I longed to hold my baby and every moment when I could do little more than look at him through the incubator wall. Through it all, my Shepherd was there, carrying my little lamb in His bosom and gently leading this nursing mommy. And feeling our pain. And seeing my sin, and the days when I didn't even feel like I could pray. And loving me anyway. So faithfully.

I have been meaning to write a "tribute" to the Lord for all that He has done for us in the miracle of Eli. But I feel that this verse is tribute enough. And there is nothing more perfect than His Word. What more can I say but that He is my Shepherd. And I never knew what that meant or how it felt until this darkest time of my life. But I will forever have a deeper understanding because of this time. I am deeply thankful. God is my Shepherd. He is good all the time. I will teach my son this truth and will pray that each member of our family walks faithfully with the Shepherd who tends to each member of His flock with exactly the kind of care they need, from the lambs to the ewes, and everyone in between.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Here is a little glimpse into the Wilson household this past week...

-Eli had his first cold last week. :( We always freak out about the littlest things with him because of his lowered immunity (due to prematurity), but he weathered the storm just fine. He was really sleepy and lost much of his appetite, but after several days of me holding him non-stop (and watching Gilmore Girls to keep myself occupied), he came out of it. Yay! One cold virus down, 299 to go!

-Eli made his last trip to church for several months. Because of RSV season, we have been strongly urged by Eli's doctors to keep him inside our house and away from crowds so that he is protected from the RSV virus. Again, because of his prematurity and lung problems, he's really susceptible to RSV and to major complications because of it. So on Sunday we made our last trip to church for the fall/winter. When we re-emerge from hibernation he'll shock 'em all with his enormous size. :)

-We went to the Arboretum on Saturday. It was beautiful! They have so many pumpkins out, and every mother in the Dallas metroplex was there taking pictures of her children. It was comical- every mom was yelling some version of "STOP THAT! SIT DOWN! SMILE! YOU WILL HAVE YOUR PICTURE TAKEN AND YOU WILL LIKE IT!" and every child was climbing recklessly over the pumpkins and hay, refusing to sit or smile for the pictures. It made me laugh.

-Eric and I got to have a really fun date on Friday night. The days of going on a date every Friday night, though fondly remembered, are long gone now that we have a baby. So we treasure the couple Fridays a month that we get to go out and leave Eli with my parents. We ate dinner on the lake and got ice cream afterwards and just talked and laughed. Perfect!

-Eli had his first RSV shot. I hate seeing him get shots, but this is one that I am behind 100%. It's an immunoglobin shot that boosts Eli's ability to fight RSV if he does get it. We go every month until March to get a shot. We're paying a $15 copay for each shot, thanks to insurance, but the shots actually cost $1000 a pop! It must be some good medicine!

And that's about it. Sorry for the not-so-exciting post. Happy fall!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

5 Months!

Five months ago today, at exactly 5:19am, Eli came into our world! It is so hard to believe that 5 whole months have passed. The Lord has truly had His hands around our little guy every step of the way.

Eli, born almost two months early, was severely growth-restricted in utero, and was born weighing only a little more than 2 1/2 pounds. He was TINY- his knee was the size of the joint in my thumb. He now weighs almost 11 pounds, and, though he is still so small in comparison with other babies his age, we are so thankful for our big boy.

Here are a few things I love about my Eli:

-He rarely fusses or cries! (Unless, of course, I am sucking his nose with a nasal aspirator, but who wouldn't cry about that?)
-He loves to stand up and does it at every opportunity. And because he's so skinny, you can see the muscles in his thighs. It's so cute!
-He is really verbal and interactive. If I put him down for a minute to go into the next room, he starts talking up a storm, LOUDLY, as if he is calling me back in so that we can have a chat.
-He loves to read books. Fox in Sox is his favorite. He talks and laughs the whole time.
-He loves to be outside. Eric and I both love this about him, because we're big fans of the great outdoors ourselves.
-He's a cuddler. How I always wanted a baby who would just snuggle into my chest and fall contentedly asleep... and that's what I got!
-He's SWEET. I can't explain it, but that's just what he is. There is a sweet gentleness about him that reminds me so much of Eric and of the Lord.

I could go on and on. What can I say? I love my baby! Happy 5-month birthday, Eli! We're so proud to be your parents!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pretty Old-Fashioned

Eric and I volunteer at the Awana club at our church. If you're not familiar with Awana, it's a Bible club for kids focused on games and Scripture memory. Kelly and Heather and I did Awana when we were kids and LOVED it, and many of the verses I know now are ones that I learned in club! Anyway, it's been a blast to get to spend time with these precious kids on Tuesday nights, and I am learning more than ever that "kids say the darndest things." :) I'll give you one example. (I'm not going to put the kid's name in here because I didn't ask his parents' permission.)

Boy: Have you ever heard of backyard baseball?
Me: Yes, I have.
Boy: We have it. It's pretty old-fashioned, though.
Me: Old-fashioned? What do you mean?
Boy: Well, it was made back in 2003 or something. Maybe even 2002. It's really old.
Me: I don't think that's old at all.
Boy: Yes it is! I was born in 2001 and it is only one year older than me!
Me: Oh yeah, well guess how old I am?
Boy: Ummm.... 15!
Me: (laughing) I'm a little older than 15.
Boy: Ooo, I know- 46!
Me: 46?!? I'm not 46!
Boy: Oh, um, thirty-something?
Me: Less than that.
Boy: Twenty-something?
Me: Yeah, somewhere in the twenties.
Boy: (goes through all the numbers until he hits on 27) 27! You're 27.
Me: Yup. 27. You hurt my feelings with that 46 comment. (said jokingly, of course)
Boy: (smiles apologetically) I was just kidding. (pauses and thinks) You're 20 years older than me!

I'm so old-fasioned.